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Electoral Reform Society: ‘Are government burying the news on cuts to opposition funding?’

19th February 2016
19 Feb 2016

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  • Statement from the Electoral Reform Society
  • For immediate release, 19th February 2016
  • For more information, for further quotes or to arrange an interview/comment piece, contact Josiah Mortimer, Electoral Reform Society Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or Josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

Campaigners are asking whether the government are ‘sweeping under the rug’ the consultation on proposed 19% cuts to opposition party funding today, as it launches its consultation document [1] on the controversial changes on the same day as the expected EU referendum deal. 

Will Brett, Head of Campaigns and Communications at the Electoral Reform Society said:

“The government are launching this consultation on the day when an EU deal is set to be announced. A cynic might think they want to bury the news that they’re going ahead with 19% cuts to funding for opposition parties. Trying to sweep this under the carpet does British voters a real disservice.

“This consultation is not about the principle of cutting funding for opposition parties - it’s merely about how the cut should be done. But the UK already spends just a tenth of the European average on public funding for political parties, and has one of the lowest rates of public funding among developed countries. Any further reductions can only undermine the ability for opposition parties to do their democratic duty of holding the government to account.

“The mooted plans to change the benchmark for Short money – reducing the emphasis of parties’ number of votes – would also be a step backwards. Britain’s voting system means smaller parties are hugely under-represented, despite having significant public support. Focusing just on the number of MPs denies a voice to millions of citizens whose votes didn’t translate into seats because of an out-dated voting system. Changing the benchmark to disadvantage smaller parties would be a retrograde move that ignores the fact we are now a pluralistic, multi-party democracy, with a need for a strong and diverse opposition to reflect voters’ views.

“57% of the public think a publicly-funded political system would be fairer than the largely big-donor dominated one we have now. This cut will do nothing to improve people's perceptions of politics. All it will do is weaken our democracy and leave voters even more under-represented."

ENDS

[1] The consultation can be read here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/short-money-allocations-request-for-views

For more information, for further quotes or to arrange an interview/comment piece, contact Josiah Mortimer, Electoral Reform Society Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or Josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

ERS Cymru call for votes at 16 and e-voting pilots with launch of democracy manifesto

18th February 2016
18 Feb 2016
Tags: 
ERS Cymru
ERS Wales
wales
Cymru
democracy
manifesto

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***Neges Ddwyieithog: Scroliwch Lawr am y Gymraeg // Bilingual Message: Scroll down for Welsh***

ERS Cymru call for votes at 16 and e-voting pilots with launch of democracy manifesto     

Campaigners are calling on parties to get behind votes at 16, a monthly ‘Citizens’ Question Time’ and online voting trials in the Assembly in the run up to May’s election.

Electoral Reform Society Cymru are laying down a challenge for parties to get behind proposals for ‘revitalising democracy in Wales’, with the launch of ‘Breathing New Life into Politics’ [1], the first of three manifestos being published by the campaign group ahead of May’s Assembly elections [2].

The 19 policy recommendations in the democratic reform manifesto include piloting a ‘Citizens’ Committee’ in the Senedd to scrutinise Ministers, introducing Proportional Representation for local elections, and making it possible to vote anywhere in Wales – all of which will be possible under the new Wales Act.

The Society are calling on parties to kick-start a ‘democratic revival’ in Wales as the election race heats up, with parties planning their manifestos in the run up to May.

Read the report here in Welsh and English

Steve Brooks, Director of ERS Cymru, said:

“As the Assembly gains new powers over elections, there’s a real opportunity for parties and the next government to revitalise Welsh democracy, and this manifesto lays out the way forward.

“With innovative reforms like votes at 16, a monthly Citizens’ Question Time and online voting trials, we can make the next Assembly more engaging and participatory than it has ever been. 

“We hope all parties embrace the recommendations as crucial moves to change the way we do politics in Wales for the better. We’ve laid down the challenge – now’s the chance to embrace this opportunity to make Wales a world-leader in democratic reform.

“Over the last two decades the shape of Welsh politics has changed enormously. We now live in an era of multi-party politics. But our institutions are under growing strain, while voters in Wales feel increasingly disconnected from politics. It’s time to bring democracy closer to the people.

“Wales will soon have the power to do so – and we hope parties use those powers for the good of voters.”

For more information or to arrange an interview, comment piece or coverage in advance, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Cymru Communications Officer - josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk / 07717211630

Notes

[1] Read the embargoed report, Breathing New Life Into Politics, here (bilingual)

[2] The next two policy-themed mini-manifestos will be launched in March and April, on diversity/accessibility and open government/transparency. Contact Josiah Mortimer (details above) to discuss further.


 

ERS Cymru yn galw am bleidlais yn 16 oed ac e-bleidleisio gyda lansiad maniffesto ddemocratiaeth

Mae ymgyrchwyr yn galw ar y pleidiau gwleidyddol i gefnogi pleidlais yn 16 oed, pleidleisio ar-lein ac yn ‘Hawl i Holi Dinasyddion’ misol yn y Cynulliad yn y cyfnod cyn etholiad y Cynulliad ym mis Mai.

Mae Electoral Reform Society (ERS) Cymru wedi gosod her i bleidiau I gefnogi cynigion I 'adfywio democratiaeth yng Nghymru', gyda lansiad 'Adnewyddu ein Gwleidyddiaeth', y cyntaf o dri [1] maniffesto sy'n cael eu cyhoeddi gan y grŵp ymgyrchu cyn etholiadau'r Cynulliad ym mis Mai.

Mae'r 19 argymhelliad yn y maniffesto dros ddiwygio democrataidd yn cynnwys treialu 'Pwyllgor o Ddinasyddion’ yn y Senedd i graffu ar Weinidogion, cyflwyno cynrychiolaeth gyfrannol ar gyfer etholiadau lleol, a gwneud hi’n bosibl i bleidleisio yn unrhyw le yng Nghymru - bydd pob un ohonynt yn bosibl o dan y Ddeddf Cymru newydd.

Mae'r Gymdeithas yn galw ar bleidiau annog 'adfywiad democrataidd' yng Nghymru wrth i'r ras etholiad boethi, gyda pleidiau yn cynllunio eu maniffestos yn y cyfnod hyd at fis Mai.

Darllenwch yr adroddiad dan embargo yma

Dywedodd Steve Brooks, Cyfarwyddwr ERS Cymru:

"Wrth i'r Cynulliad yn ennill pwerau newydd dros etholiadau, mae cyfle go iawn i bleidiau a'r llywodraeth nesaf i adfywio democratiaeth Cymru, a mae’r maniffesto yma yn dangos y ffordd ymlaen.

"Gyda diwygiadau arloesol fel pleidleisiau yn 16 oed, Hawl I Holi misol i Ddinasyddion a phleidleisio ar-lein, gallwn wneud y Cynulliad nesaf yn fwy deniadol a chyfranogol nag a fu erioed.

"Rydym yn gobeithio I bob plaid groesawu’r argymhellion fel symudiadau hanfodol i newid y ffordd yr ydym yn gwneud gwleidyddiaeth yng Nghymru er gwell. Rydym wedi gosod yr her - nawr yw'r cyfle i achub ar y cyfle hwn i wneud Cymru yn arweinydd byd o ran diwygio democrataidd.

"Dros y ddau ddegawd diwethaf mae siâp gwleidyddiaeth Cymru wedi newid yn aruthrol. Rydym bellach yn byw mewn cyfnod o wleidyddiaeth aml-blaid. Ond mae ein sefydliadau o dan straen, tra bod pleidleiswyr yng Nghymru yn teimlo'n fwyfwy wedi datgysylltu o wleidyddiaeth. Mae'n amser i ddod â democratiaeth yn agosach at y bobl.

"Cyn hir bydd gan y Cynulliad y pŵer i wneud hynny - ac rydym yn gobeithio I’r pleidiau ddefnyddio'r pwerau hynny er lles pleidleiswyr yma yng Nghymru."

Am fwy o wybodaeth neu i drefnu cyfweliad, sylwadau darn neu sylw ymlaen llaw, cysylltwch â Josiah Mortimer, Cymru Swyddog Cyfathrebu ERS - josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk / 07717211630

Nodiadau

Darllenwch yr adroddiad dan embargo yma

Bydd themau y ddau mini-maniffestos nesaf yn cael eu lawnsio yn Mawrth ac Ebrill, ar amrywiaeth / cydraddoldeb, ac ar  llywodraeth agored a thryloyw. Cysylltwch â Josiah Mortimer (manylion uchod) i drafod ymhellach.

Electoral Reform Society Cymru to launch Democracy Manifesto: ‘Breathing New Life in to Politics’

11th February 2016
11 Feb 2016
Tags: 
wales
ERS Wales
ERS Cymru
democracy
manifesto
Assembly elections

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Forward Planning Note: 

ERS Cymru  to publish key policy recommendations to parties for revitalising democracy in Wales, ahead of Assembly elections and forthcoming new powers

Release date: Thursday 18th February. 

Contact: Josiah Mortimer, Communications Officer - josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk / 07717211630. www.electoral-reform.org.uk

 

Electoral Reform Society Cymru will launch its manifesto on democratic reform next Thursday (18th February), as part of the first of three manifestos [1] ahead of May’s Assembly elections.

The manifesto will call on all parties to get behind policies to improve democracy in Wales as they write their own manifestos.

The 19 key policy recommendations – on issues covering elections, getting young people active in democracy, and bringing power closer to the people - will draw on new powers over elections and the running of the Assembly and local councils coming to Wales, including the franchise age and the voting system used for local elections.

Distribution:

A full briefing/press release and embargoed digital version of the report will be sent out on Wednesday 17th at 10:00, embargoed for Thursday 18th, 00:01. Print copies will be available on request.

For more information or to arrange an interview, comment piece or coverage in advance, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Cymru Communications Officer - josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk / 07717211630

Notes

The next two policy-themed mini-manifestos will be launched in Marched and April, on diversity/accessibility and open government/transparency. Contact Josiah Mortimer (details above) to discuss further. 

Leading figures from major parties unite to secure electoral reform by 2021

5th February 2016
5 Feb 2016
Tags: 
proportional representation
conference
electoral reform

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PR Alliance Building Conference will bring together high-profile politicians from every major party

  • Forward planning note from Make Votes Matter, for immediate release, 4th February 2016
  • Journalists will be able to interview speakers and participants
  • Date: Monday 8th February 2016, 13:30 - 18:00, followed by interviews, drinks and networking
  • Press accreditation and address available on request for journalists wishing to attend
  • For enquiries contact Klina Jordan on klina@makevotesmatter.org.uk or 07813 336 618

Leading figures from all the UK’s major parties will come together next Monday (8th February) to discuss how to achieve a proportional voting system for Westminster elections by 2021.

It follows rumours that Labour and the Liberal Democrats are discussing a potential pact to secure PR after the next General Election [1], and a joint letter signed by several party leaders in the Independent on Sunday [2].

The conference, organised by Make Votes Matter [3], draws together figures from across the spectrum, with a high-profile platform of speakers and participants:

Keynote speakers:

  • Natalie Bennett, Leader, Green Party
  • Katie Ghose, Chief Executive, Electoral Reform Society
  • Diane James, MEP for SE England, & Home Affairs Spokesperson, UKIP
  • Stephen Kinnock, MP for Aberavon, Labour
  • Jonathan Reynolds, MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, Labour
  • Tommy Sheppard, MP for Edinburgh East, Scottish National Party
  • John Strafford, Vice Chairman, Conservative Action for Electoral Reform
  • Lord Paul Tyler, Liberal Democrats
  • Chuka Umunna, MP for Streatham, Labour
  • Hywel Williams, MP and Parliamentary Leader, Plaid Cymru

Organisers see the event as an opportunity for all the main political parties, pro-PR organisations, representatives of local democracy groups and public figures to form alliances in order to secure a proportional voting system following the next General Election.

A spokesperson for Make Votes Matter said:

“Last May’s General Election was the most disproportionate election ever in the UK. Votes per MP elected varied dramatically from party to party, ranging from just over 23,000 votes to almost 4 million, and when one quarter of voters are represented by 1.5% of Parliamentary seats, we cannot say we have real democracy.

“To secure a proportional voting system, all the pro-PR parties and organisations need to find the best way forward together, so we excited to be creating a space to start the conversation. The PR Alliance Building Conference is a historic opportunity to work collaboratively towards creating and implementing an effective strategy to get PR for Westminster by 2021.”

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

Last year saw over half a million people and five political parties come together to sign and deliver petitions calling for a fair voting system, so this conference is a very welcome next step in the push for a truly democratic voting system.

“Nearly every European country uses a Proportional Representation (PR) system, and here in the UK, public support for PR is at an all-time high, with three quarters of the public in favour. It’s great to see citizens and leading political figures coming together to work out how best to secure a fair voting system.”

Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party, said:

“The fact that we have a government without any kind of democratic mandate - with only the support of 24% of eligible voters, combined with our unelected House of Lords, is doing serious damage to trust in our democratic process. It's almost a century since the last significant change in Westminster. It was 1918 when women got the vote - we should not go past the anniversary of that without seeing a change to a fair, proportional electoral system, in both the Commons and the upper chamber.”

Chuka Umunna, MP for Streatham, Labour, said:

“First Past The Post has had its day. We cannot carry on with a voting system that disenfranchises millions and where winning an argument with the British public is a different task to winning the votes required to form a government.  It is not sustainable and I doubt the British people will continue to stand for it.”

Lord Paul Tyler of the Liberal Democrats, said:

“The public are urging us to act together.  This Government is throwing its weight around with the support of less than a quarter of the eligible electorate – they would brand any other government in the world with that level of mandate as illegitimate.”

Diane James MEP, UKIP Home Affairs and Justice Spokesperson:

“At the last general election, UKIP got 4 million votes and only one elected MP. This is patently untenable and things cannot go on like this. The first past the post electoral system is clearly bankrupt. We must have an electoral system where votes cast match seats allocated and introducing a proportional system will deliver a result that is both fair and more democratic.”

Stephen Kinnock, MP for Aberavon, Labour:

“The First Past The Post electoral system distorts our democracy, encourages adversarial politics and divides people. With the constitutional foundations of our nation cracking the case for electoral reform has never been stronger. The PR alliance is a doughty campaigner on this vital issue, and I am honoured to have been invited to speak at this important event.”

John Strafford, Vice Chairman, Conservative Action for Electoral Reform:

"Our electoral system is bust. Parliament no longer represents all the people of the United Kingdom. This democratic deficit has to be addressed. It is time for our political parties to come together to create a fair electoral system that will ensure that the views of all the people are taken into account".

Tommy Sheppard, MP for Edinburgh East, SNP:

“The current electoral system alienates people from politics and widens the divide between government and the governed. The first past the post system is unfair, undemocratic, and long past its sell by date.”

Programme

  • 13:30 – 14:00 Arrival, refreshments and networking
  • 14:00 – 14:40 Welcome from Owen Winter, Member of Youth Parliament and Make Votes Matter Spokesperson, followed by introductions
  • 14:40 – 15:20 Keynote ideas about how each of the parties plans to get PR and how collaboration with other groups could make this more likely
  • 15:20 – 16:00 Cream tea and bubbly: making connections for ongoing collaboration
  • 16:00 – 16:40 Open Space: facilitated plenary session to establish working group topics  
  • 16:40 – 17:20 Working groups arising from plenary discussion
  • 17:20 – 18:00 Closing circle – reports back from the working groups about what has been agreed and how their ideas will be taken forward
  • 18:00 – 19:30 Press interviews, photo opportunities, drinks, nibbles and networking

ENDS

Notes to Editors

[1] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/jeremy-corbyn-in-secret-talks-with-tim-farron-over-voting-reform-alliance-against-conservatives-a6830341.html

[2] www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/electoral-reform-party-leaders-call-for-pact-to-achieve-alternative-voting-system-after-next-a6843716.html

[3] Make Votes Matter is a campaign organisation focused on getting Proportional Representation in the House of Commons by 2021. Their formation was triggered by the most disproportionate election in UK history, and they are a non-partisan, democratically-organised group with over 238,000 supporters. MVM’s Declaration for Voting Reform has been signed by hundreds of people, high profile figures and organisations, including Unlock Democracy, the Electoral Reform Society, the Green Party, the Peter Tatchell Foundation and Frankie Boyle.

Electoral Reform Society Cymru warns against June EU vote

2nd February 2016
2 Feb 2016

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**Fersiwn yn y Gymraeg yn cael ei yrru cyn hir // Welsh-language version forthcoming**

  • Statement from the Electoral Reform Society Cymru
  • For immediate release, 13:00, 2nd February 2016
  • For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer (English only), ERS Cymru Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

Electoral Reform Society Cymru has warned today (2nd February) that holding the EU referendum in June [1] would risk undermining the upcoming Assembly elections.

The Society believes a June vote – something being mooted today - could overshadow the Welsh elections this May.

Stephen Brooks, Director of Electoral Reform Society Cymru, said:

“An EU referendum vote so soon after the Assembly elections would risk undermining the elections themselves – knocking the debate off course and away from issues which are actually devolved.

“April and May will see the EU debate reaching its peak if the vote was to be held in June – potentially overshadowing the crucial process of Welsh voters choosing their next government.

 “A June EU vote would only serve to add more confusion to an already busy day of elections, with Police and Crime Commissioners also being picked – despite issues of justice and policing not being fully devolved [2].

 “The Welsh Assembly elections get far too little UK-wide attention as it is. Both the Welsh Assembly elections and the EU referendum need clear runs: let’s have genuinely focused discussions about these two important decisions by conducting the campaigns at different times.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

[1] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/eureferendum/12135328/EU-referendum-draft-deal-revealed-by-Donald-Tusk-live.html#update-20160202-0800

[2] http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/wrong-person-could-elected-assembly-8862675

Electoral Reform Society Cymru yn rhybuddio yn erbyn pleidlais Refferendwm ar Ewrop yn mis Mehefin

2nd February 2016
2 Feb 2016

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  • Datganiad gan y ERS Cymru
  • I'w ryddhau ar unwaith, 13:00, 2 Chwefror 2016
  • Am ragor o wybodaeth, dyfyniadau neu i drefnu cyfweliad, cysylltwch â Josiah Mortimer (Saesneg yn unig), ERS Swyddog Cyfathrebu Cymru, ar 07717211630 neu josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk
  • Neu am ddyfyniadau neu cyfweliadau yn y Gymraeg, cysylltwch â Dr Owain ap Gareth ar 07771661802 neu Owain.apgareth@electoral-reform.org.uk

Mae Electoral Reform Society (ERS) Cymru wedi rhybuddio heddiw (2il Chwefror) yn erbyn cynnal y refferendwm ar aelodaeth o’r Undeb Ewropeaidd ym mis Mehefin [1] gan y byddai'n beryg o danseilio etholiadau sydd i ddod i Gynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru.

Mae'r Gymdeithas yn credu y gall bleidlais yn Mehefin - rhywbeth sy'n cael ei grybwyll heddiw - daflu cysgod dros yr etholiadau Cymreig ym mis Mai, a’r ymgyrch sydd ohoni.

Dywedodd Stephen Brooks, Cyfarwyddwr ERS Cymru:

"Mae pleidlais refferendwm UE mor fuan ar ôl etholiadau'r Cynulliad yn beryg o danseilio yr etholiadau eu hunain – gan wyro y ddadl oddi ar ei gwrs ac i ffwrdd o faterion sydd wedi'u datganoli.

"Bydd Ebrill a Mai yn gweld y ddadl am Ewrop yn cyrraedd ei anterth pe byddai'r bleidlais i'w gynnal ym mis Mehefin - o bosibl yn rhoi’r broses hanfodol o bleidleiswyr Cymru yn dewis eu llywodraeth nesaf yn y cysgod.

"Byddai pleidlais Ewrop yn Mehefin hefyd yn ychwanegu mwy o ddryswch i ddiwrnod eisoes yn brysur gyda etholiadau, gyda Heddlu a Chomisiynwyr Troseddau hefyd yn cael eu codi - er gwaethaf materion cyfiawnder a phlismona nad yw'n faterion sydd wedi eu datganoli [2].

 "Mae etholiadau'r Cynulliad Cenedlaethol yn cael llawer rhy ychydig o sylw ar draws y DU fel ag y mae. Mae etholiadau Cynulliad Cymru a refferendwm Ewrop angen cyfle clir i gael eu lle ar wahan: gadewch i ni gael trafodaethau â ffocws gwirioneddol am y ddau penderfyniadau pwysig drwy gynnal yr ymgyrchoedd ar adegau gwahanol ".

DIWEDD

Nodiadau i Olygyddion

[1] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/eureferendum/12135328/EU-referendum-draft-deal-revealed-by-Donald-Tusk-live.html#update-20160202-0800

[2] http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/wrong-person-could-elected-assembly-8862675

Electoral Reform Society welcomes ‘red card’ proposal in EU deal

2nd February 2016
2 Feb 2016
Tags: 
EU
Donald Tusk
EU deal
David Cameron
European Union
EU renegotiation

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  • Statement from the Electoral Reform Society
  • For immediate release, 11:30, 2nd February 2016
  • For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

The Electoral Reform Society has welcomed the proposal for national parliaments to have greater veto power over EU laws, under the proposals announced by EU Council President Donald Tusk on Tuesday.

A ‘red card’ system – where laws which do not have the support of a majority of national parliaments can be vetoed – was one of the Electoral Reform Society’s key recommendations in its recent report ‘Close the Gap: Tackling Europe’s Democratic Deficit’ [1].

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said [2]:

"Those in favour of democratic reform of the EU have long called for this change. Elected parliaments need a much stronger role in EU law-making, and a 'red card' system is a positive step towards that goal. 

“However, the ‘red card’ system shouldn’t just be a tool for Ministers – it should be MPs’ voices that are strengthened too, through real parliamentary debate of EU proposals.

"There are clearly major democratic issues with the EU which both sides of the referendum debate have to confront. Whether we vote to stay or go, today's announcement should be the start of a real debate about Britain's democratic relationship with the EU.

The 'remain' campaign needs to answer serious questions about whether UK citizens are adequately represented at the European level. The 'red card' reform is a good start, but much more needs to be done if we are going to close the gap between British people and the institutions of the European Union [3].

“And there are democratic questions for the 'leave' campaign too. If Britain does vote to leave the EU, how will we ensure that British citizens and their elected government have influence over European issues, especially during what could be a two year transition before a full exit.  After what would be a seismic political change, we would also need a citizen-led constitutional convention of citizens to look at how we move forward as a democracy.

"Today's announcement opens up the debate on Britain's democratic relationship with the EU. We want to see these issues remain at the centre of the referendum campaign. The British people deserve nothing less."

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

Notes

[1] In 2014 the ERS published ‘Close the Gap: Tackling Europe’s Democratic Deficit’ which laid out 12 major recommendations on EU democratic reform.

[2] A photo of Katie Ghose is available for free use here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/yrtpmyci4vmggcf/Katie%20Ghose%20-%20Credit%20Gus%20Palmer.jpg?dl=0

[3] Read the full ‘Close the Gap’ report and recommendations here.

ERS Cymru: Wales TV debates need to include all six parties

29th January 2016
29 Jan 2016
Tags: 
ERS Cymru
TV debates
Assembly elections
wales

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***Neges Ddwyieithog: Scroliwch Lawr am y Gymraeg***

***Bilingual Message: Scroll down for Welsh***

 

Electoral Reform Society Cymru is calling on broadcasters in Wales to include all six major parties in their election debates, to make the upcoming broadcasts as inclusive as possible.

While arrangements for the TV elections debates have yet to be decided, Electoral Reform Society (ERS) Cymru say there is a clear case for including six parties in the TV debates, following the UK general election debates last year which featured seven leaders.

Steve Brooks, Director of ERS Cymru, said:

“It’s clear that with six parties in the running for Assembly seats, they should have their voices heard. The public deserve as open and inclusive a debate as possible, especially given that the proportional electoral system means we truly have a multi-party political system in Wales, with a diverse range of viewpoints in the democratic arena. ..

“With the Assembly getting more powers, we need as open a debate as possible, and voters should be given a true representation of the options available in May.

“We call on the broadcasters to look at the success of last year’s Westminster TV debates which drew in millions of viewers because there was a real debate with clear differences of opinion.

“It would be wrong for broadcasters in Wales to exclude the Greens and UKIP, given the fact that their support has grown significantly since the last Assembly elections. Both parties are in the race to secure their first Assembly Members this May – and it’s only right that they should face the scrutiny of the public and other parties.

“Let’s open up these TV debates to reflect the diverse political landscape Wales has today. To exclude serious contenders for seats would be a missed opportunity and would only let down voters here in Wales.”

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview/comment piece, contact Josiah Mortimer on 07717211630 or josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

ENDS

Notes to Editors

Josiah Mortimer will be working with Electoral Reform Society Cymru in the run up to the Assembly elections in May.

ERS Cymru will be releasing three mini-manifestos ahead of the Assembly elections, as well as polling, research and projections for May.

 

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ERS Cymru: Mae angen i ddadleuon teledu arweinwyr pleidiau Cymru gynnwys pob un o'r chwe plaid

  • Datganiad gan Electoral Reform Society Cymru
  • Embargo hyd nes 00:01, 29 Ionawr, 2016
  • Am fwy o wybodaeth, dyfyniadau neu i drefnu cyfweliad / sylwadau, cysylltwch â Josiah Mortimer, Swyddog y Wasg ERS Cymru, ar 07717211630 neu josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk.  
  • Am gyfweliadau yn y Gymraeg, cysylltwch â Dr Owain ap Gareth ar 07771 661 802 neu owain.apgareth@electoral-reform.org.uk

Mae Electoral Reform Society (ERS) Cymru yn galw ar y darlledwyr yng Nghymru i gynnwys pob un o’r chwe prif blaid yn eu dadleuon ar gyfer etholiad cyffredinol Cymru, er mwyn gwneud yr ymgyrch mor gynhwysol â phosibl.

Er bod y trefniadau ar gyfer yr etholiadau teledu dadleuon i'w benderfynu, mae ERS Cymru yn dweud bod achos clir dros gynnwys chwech plaid yn y dadleuon teledu, yn dilyn dadleuon yr arweinwyr yn etholiad cyffredinol y DU y llynedd a oedd yn cynnwys saith arweinydd.

Dywedodd Steve Brooks, Cyfarwyddwr ERS Cymru:

"Mae'n amlwg gyda chwe blaid yn y ras i ennill seddi yn y Cynulliad, dylent i gyd gael llais cyfartal. Mae'r cyhoedd yn haeddu dadl mor agored a chynhwysol a phosib, yn enwedig o ystyried bod y system etholiadol gyfrannol yn golygu ein bod gyda system sy’n wirioneddol aml-bleidiol yng Nghymru, gydag amrywiaeth eang o safbwyntiau yn cael eu hadlewyrchu yn yr arena ddemocrataidd Gymreig.

"Gyda'r Cynulliad am ennill mwy o bwerau, mae angen dadl agored, a dylai pleidleiswyr gael syniad o'r opsiynau sydd ar gael iddynt wrth fwrw pleidlais ym mis Mai.

"Rydym yn galw ar y darlledwyr i edrych ar lwyddiant y dadleuon teledu yn San Steffan y llynedd a oedd yn tynnu mewn miliynau o wylwyr oherwydd bod dadl go iawn gyda gwahaniaethau barn clir.

"Byddai'n anghywir i ddarlledwyr yng Nghymru wahardd y Gwyrddion a'r UKIP, o ystyried y ffaith bod eu cefnogaeth wedi tyfu'n sylweddol ers etholiadau diwethaf y Cynulliad. Mae’r ddwy blaid yn y ras i sicrhau eu Haelodau Cynulliad cyntaf y Mai hyn - ac mae hi ond yn iawn iddynt wynebu craffu a scriwtini iawn gan y cyhoedd a gan y pleidiau eraill.

"Gadewch i ni gael trafodaethau teledu gwbl agored i adlewyrchu'r tirwedd wleidyddol amrywiol sydd yng Nghymru heddiw. Mi fyddai gwahardd cystadleuwyr difrifol ar gyfer seddi yn colli cyfle euraidd ac yn gadael pleidleiswyr Cymru i lawr."

Am fwy o wybodaeth, dyfyniadau neu i drefnu darn cyfweliad / sylwadau, cysylltwch â Josiah Mortimer ar 07717211630 neu josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

DIWEDD

Nodiadau i Olygyddion

Bydd Josiah Mortimer yn gweithio gyda ERS Cymru yn y cyfnod hyd at etholiadau'r Cynulliad ym mis Mai.

Bydd ERS Cymru yn rhyddhau tri mini-maniffesto cyn etholiadau Cynulliad, yn ogystal ag pleidleisio, ymchwil a rhagamcanion ar gyfer mis Mai.                                     

Transparency campaigners welcome Scottish Government commitment to 2-year review of Lobbying (Scotland) Bill

28th January 2016
28 Jan 2016

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07940 523 842
  • Statement from Electoral Reform Society Scotland on behalf of Scottish Alliance for Lobbying Transparency (SALT)
  • For immediate release 28 January 2016
  • For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Willie Sullivan, ERS Scotland Director, on 07940523842 or Willie.Sullivan@electoral-reform.org.ukAlternatively, contact Katie Gallogly-Swan ERS Scotland Campaigns Organiser, on 07930862497 or katie.galloglyswan@electoral-reform.org.uk

Scottish Alliance for Lobbying Transparency (SALT) [1] welcomes progress as Scottish Government promises two-year review [2] today (28 January) to consider a stronger Lobbying Register, but warns against leaving ‘lobby loopholes’ for email or contact with senior civil servants.

Willie Sullivan, Director of Electoral Reform Scotland said:

“By ensuring that the framework of the Bill allows for it to be strengthened, the Government has shown a commitment to the ongoing improvement of transparency. However, by not implementing more robust registration now – by including more than just face-to-face communication, communications with SpAds and Civil Servants, and campaign expenditure - the two-year review will be missing crucial information.

“At the Stage 1 debate on 7 January 2016, the Scottish Government disappointed transparency campaigners by showing reluctance to close the loopholes in the Bill, despite recommendations from the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee [3] and overwhelming public support [4]. Their ‘cautious’ approach to the public demand for transparent politics has meant that any lobbying registration process will be missing vital information that could help level the playing field between wealthy, private interests, and community campaigns.

“While the review is important, not including email communications as part of the register makes the legislation out of date long before it is even enacted.”

Steve Goodrich, Senior Research Officer, Transparency International UK:

“We’re pleased to see the Scottish Government promising to review how transparent Scottish politics is after the new lobbying rules have had time to bed in. Westminster should take a leaf from their book. However, this review will be more fruitful if it has more evidence to draw from. That’s why the Scottish Government should introduce transparency now about who’s trying to influence its decisions and officials via email, letter and phone rather than leave it for years down the line. This is a golden opportunity for Holyrood to show Westminster what political openness really is. Ministers should take it rather than letting it pass them by.”

Alexandra Runswick, Director of Unlock Democracy:

"We welcome the commitment to a review of the lobbying register after two years in operation.  However, the government should not miss the opportunity to get it right first time round. The experience of lobbying registers around the world shows that these reviews recommend more, not less transparency. That transparency could start right now with a robust register.

“Lobbyists will always try find loopholes in the rules. Unfortunately, they’ve still got lots to work with in this Bill. Lobbyists should not be able to escape the register simply by talking to politicians on the phone or by email."

Robin McAlpine, Director of Common Weal said:

“It’s really good that the Scottish Government seems to be becoming more and more persuaded on the case for proper transparency over lobbying, not least because of the overwhelming public support. This commitment to an ongoing process to make this better regulation is a genuinely positive sign and as long as the Scottish Government doesn’t allow momentum to be lost after the election it will send out a message to the public that it’s their parliament, not the lobbyists.”

Notes:

[1] The Scottish Alliance for Lobbying Transparency (SALT) is an alliance of civil society groups who are concerned about the growing influence of lobbying on decision-making in Scotland. We believe only increased transparency can begin to restore trust in policy making and make ministers, elected representatives, and officials more accountable to the public. 

[2] The Government response can be seen here: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/S4_StandardsProceduresandPublicAppointmentsCommittee/Stage_1_response_-_Lobbying_Bill.pdf

[3]In December 2015, SALT commissioned a YouGov poll on public opinion of the three suggestions to strengthen the Bill by:

1.     Expanding the definition of lobbying so multiple modes of communication trigger registration

2.     Expanding the definition so lobbying of civil servants and special advisers triggers registration

3.     Expand the information that should be disclosed by lobbyists to include spending on lobbying

Of those polled, 88% believed that lobbying posed a big or significant risk to the policy-making process, compared to only 12% who said there was not much or no risk. Only 9% said it was enough to have face-to-face meetings between politicians and lobbyists in any lobbying register, whereas 91% believed that the register should include lobbying communications with Special Advisers and Civil Servants. While 13% agreed with the initial Bill that lobbying should include only face-to-face meetings, 87% agreed with the SALT recommendation to include more modes of communication like telephone calls and emails. Most significantly, 92% of those polled supported financial disclosure of lobbying expenditure, with only 8% saying this was not important.

[4] The Committee report can be read here: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/94898.aspx

New Lords committee could be first step towards party funding settlement

20th January 2016
20 Jan 2016

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07717211630
  • Statement from the Electoral Reform Society
  • For immediate release, 20th January 2016
  • For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview/comment piece, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

The Electoral Reform Society has strongly welcomed a vote by Peers in the House of Lords this afternoon to set up a cross-party committee on party funding reform - amidst growing concern that the Trade Union Bill is far too one-sided in its approach to the issue.

Peers voted this afternoon (5pm) by 327 votes to 234 in favour of Baroness Smith of Basildon’s motion [2] to create a select committee on the party funding elements of the Trade Union Bill which would force union members to ‘opt in’ to unions’ political funds – potentially cutting off up to £6m of Labour’s funding every year [3].

The motion will establish a new committee ‘to consider the impact of clauses 10 and 11 of the Trade Union Bill [on unions’ Political Funds] in relation to the Committee on Standards in Public Life’s report, ‘Political Party Finance: ending the big donor culture’’ – a major 2011 report on party funding reform [4].

Peers advocated ‘urgent new legislation to balance those provisions [in the Trade Union Bill] with the other recommendations made in the Committee’s Report’, with the new cross-party select committee set to report by 29 February.

Welcoming the move, Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said [5]:

“This could be the first step towards a lasting settlement on party funding. As things stand, the current Trade Union Bill could take £6m per year off Labour’s finances, without reforming party funding across the board. We need to clean up the parties’ big donor culture once and for all.”

“Our new polling shows that that 77% of the public think that big donors have too much influence over our politics, and 57% believe that a state-funded political system would be fairer than the one we currently have – up from 41% in 2014 [6]. We need serious cross-party action on this – not tit-for-tat partisan attacks.

“We strongly welcome Peers’ important decision on this Bill and we hope parties engage constructively with this new committee to sort out the mess that is Britain’s party funding system.”

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview/comment piece, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

Notes to Editors

In 2014 the ERS published ‘Deal or No Deal: How to put an end to party funding scandals’. Read the full report and recommendations here.

[1] See here http://electoral-reform.org.uk/press-release/trade-union-bill-77-public-think-big-donors-have-too-much-influence-parties

[2] See here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/trade-union-bill-lib-dems-to-help-labour-prevent-bill-from-stifling-party-funding-a6816856.html and here http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld/ldordpap.htm

[3] More information on how the Trade Union Bill will affect Labour Party funding is available here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-33537550

[4]https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/228646/8208.pdf

[5] A photo of Katie Ghose is available for free use here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/yrtpmyci4vmggcf/Katie%20Ghose%20-%20Credit%20Gus%20Palmer.jpg?dl=0

[6] Polling by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, 24-27 February 2014, available here: http://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/sites/default/files/GQR%20public%20poll%206%20March%202014(1).pdf